Seventh Day Baptists are Protestant, not Church of God

By COGwriter

Seventh Day Baptists (SDBs) in the 21st century are basically Protestant Baptists who have a preference for attending church services on the seventh day Sabbath.

Baptists of various types have claimed continuity from the original apostles.

Do the SDBs or other Baptists truly "contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3) as the New Testament admonishes or is another group more faithful?

This article covers some information about Baptist history, Bapist differences from those they claim continuity from, information on original Christian beliefs & practices, as well as specific information about the SDBs themselves.

Baptist History

Let's start at looking at some information that Baptists (and not just the 7th day ones) have asserted about their history.

Various Baptist historians write from the perspective that Baptists existed independently from Roman Catholicism and existed prior to the Protestant Reformation.

Some have a Baptist perpetuity (sometimes called ‘successionst’) view, which is the claim Baptists have existed since Pentecost in the 2nd chapter of the Book of Acts.

The perpetuity view is often identified with The Trail of Blood, a booklet containing five lectures by Dr. James Milton Carrol published in 1931. That booklet claims perpetuity, but an honest reading of it leads to the general conclusion that there are no details to show that Dr. Carroll proved his point on the perpetuity of his faith from the time of Jesus it (it mainly points to infant baptism not becoming an issue until after the rise of Emperor Constantine, and persecutions which came to those who disagreed after that). Yet, despite lack of proof, many Baptists still believe it.

The Trail of Blood also contains the following:

In the first two centuries the individual churches rapidly multiplied and some of the earlier ones, such as Jerusalem, Antioch, Ephesus, Corinth, etc., grew … serious error to begin creeping in … the loyal churches declared non-fellowship for those churches which accepted and practiced … errors …

While Ephesus and Antioch remained faithful until sometime into the 3rd century (and with the leaders from those areas refuting erroneous changes), Jerusalem and Corinth had apostatized before the end of the 2nd century.

Furthermore, it should be pointed out that in The Trail of Blood, the “loyal churches” Dr. Carroll that claims became separate from Rome were NOT actually loyal churches (the truly loyal ones never became part of the Greco-Roman confederacy).

Here is Baptist claim about early groups that supposedly were “Baptist”:

Novatians were Baptists … They continued on as Anabaptists … Hassell lists them right along with the other Baptists of the other ages. “Among the persecuted people of God have been the Novatians, Donatists, Cathari, Paterines, Paulicians, Petrobrusians, Henricans, Arnoldists, Albigenses, Waldenses, Lollards, Mennonites and Baptists, nearly all of whom were occasionally designated Anabaptists or Re-Baptizers by their enemies, because they disregarded infant or unregenerate baptism, and baptized all adults, whether previously baptized or not, who, upon a credible profession of faith, applied to them for membership in their churches -thus insisting upon a spiritual or regenerate church membership, the First and Most Important Mark of the Apostolic Church.” (Hissel B. Baptist History Notebook, 3rd ed. Baptist Training Center, 2017, p. 115-116)

While some of those groups held ‘Baptist doctrines,’ many did not. For example, the Cathari considered the cross to be the “mark of the Beast,” yet modern Baptists use crosses as a religious symbol. For another example, the faithful among the Waldenses paid multiple tithes, kept the Sabbath, would not keep Easter, etc.—they were most certainly not modern Baptists.

Now, see the following assessment from Baptist Pastor Tyler Robbins of certain Baptists claiming the Novatians:

Were the Novatians Baptists? Many Baptists like to claim the Novatians as their own. … If the Novatians cannot be claimed as direct descendants, can they be claimed as the distant spiritual kin of modern-day Baptists? Some Baptists would agree.

Much of what has been written of the Novatians by Baptists of any stripe is at best a gloss, and at worst completely incorrect. As an example of the latter, G.H. Orchard, a Landmarkist, wrote (1855):

One Novatian, a presbyter in the church of Rome, strongly opposed the readmission of apostates, but he was not successful. … Novatian, with every considerate person, was disgusted with the hasty admission of such apostates to communion, and with the conduct of many pastors, who were more concerned about numbers than purity of communion. (p. 53)

J.M. Carrol, in his infamous treatise Trail of Blood, declared that when the errors of compromised local church autonomy, infant baptism and baptismal regeneration crept into true churches, the Novatian Baptists sallied forth for the cause of ecclesiastical purity:

Some of the churches vigorously repudiated them. So much so that in A.D. 251, the loyal churches declared non-fellowship for those churches which accepted and practiced these errors. And thus came about the first real official separation among the churches. (2013, Kindle Locations 294-295)

Jack Hoad, a solid historian, likewise missed the boat when he wrote that Novatians were “making a strong protest against the same moral laxity and the weak, almost non-existent disciplinary standards in the churches” (1986, p. 30). Thomas Armitage observed that “[t]he Novatians demanded pure Churches which enforced strict discipline, and so were called Puritans” (178).

All of these brief characterizations are wrong. …

Dionysius … claimed that Novatian plied gullible men with liberal amounts of alcohol and “compelled” them to support his rival claim to the Bishopric (6.43.9-10, NPNF2, 1:288)! (Robbins T. Were the Novations Early Baptists? Sharper Iron, October 8, 2014)

Novatian himself was baptized by pouring, not immersion, and (3) his baptism was not conducted as a public testimony of his new-found faith—it was done in private, upon a sickbed. … Novatian’s church believed the Holy Spirit was bestowed after baptism and after confirmation by the bishop. Cornelius, Novatian’s own successor, criticized him for (1) his irregular baptism, and (2) not having been confirmed. This is not the portrait of a Baptist crusader. (Robbins T. Were the Novatians Early Baptists? Part 2. Sharper Iron, October 17, 2014)

Tyler Robbins is correct that Novatian, who came from the Church of Rome, was not a faithful Christian He is considered the second “antipope” by the Church of Rome and that church claims Novatian declared himself pope in 251. His faith did not hold to many original Christian teachings. But The Trail of Blood points to his 251 declaration to improperly support the Baptist claim of perpetuity.

It should also be pointed out that Dr. Carroll’s booklet opposes actual apostolic succession, as it states:

Baptists do not believe in Apostolic Succession.

Since it is true that the groups that tend to call themselves Baptists do not have true apostolic succession, obviously they should not claim perpetuity.

Here are some inaccurate perpetuity/successionist assertions by the 19th century Baptist minister G.H. Orchard:

the Baptists may be considered as the only Christian community which has stood since the times of the Apostles ... all Christian communities during the first three centuries were of the Baptist denomination ... The oriental Baptist Churches, with their successors the Paulicians, continued in their purity until the tenth century when these people visited France ... where they flourished until the crusader army scattered or drown in blood ... offending professors. (Orchard GH. A Concise History of Foreign Baptists. George Wightman Paternoster Row, London, 1838, p. v)

There are many issues with his assertions. The historical reality is that while all faithful Christians believed in baptism by immersion for the repentant, the “oriental … Churches” (meaning those in Asia Minor) held many doctrines that the modern Baptists oppose (which this book will go into in more detail). Their ‘successors’ the Paulicians, for example, were binitarian (Gregory of Nyssa. On the Holy Spirit, Against the Followers of Macedonius. In Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Series Two, Volume 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. American Edition, 1893), kept Passover on the 14th (Conybeare F.C. The Key of Truth: A Manual of the Paulician Church of Armenia. Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1898, p. clii), kept the seventh-day Sabbath while opposing Sunday (ibid pp. clii, cxciii), did not keep Christmas (ibid pp. clii, cxciii), and the faithful ones called Paulicians were also pacifists (Fortesque A. Transcribed by Richard L. George. Paulicians. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Copyright © 1911 by Robert Appleton Company). And while we in Continuing Church of God (CCOG) would agree that those were original and pure Christian doctrines, Baptists do not hold to them (although Seventh-Day Baptists do often strive to keep the Sabbath--but otherwise do not hold to the original Christian faith for the rest).

In his book, Baptist minister G.H. Orchard also claimed “primitive Baptists” essentially began with John the Baptist (ibid, p. 1). Then he later included as “primitive Baptists” Ignatius of Antioch (p. 13), Polycarp of Smyrna (p. 18), Justin Martyr (p. 22), Irenaeus of Lyon (p. 24), Clement of Alexandria (p. 25), and Theophilus of Antioch (p. 26). He also considered writings of John Chrysostom (p. 41) and Augustine of Hippo (p. 44) as ‘testimonies of the Fathers’ and called them “great men” (p.47).

The problem is that not all (if any) of those “primitive Baptist” ministers G.H. Orchard claimed to be Baptists actually held many “Baptist” doctrines. But since relatively few people know much about those early leaders, various Baptists have failed to realize that they held to many doctrines that modern Baptists do not hold.

Consider the following that John the Baptist was prophesied to do:

79 To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace. (Luke 1:79)

So, John the Baptist was expected to guide God’s followers into the way of peace. Now, notice his response to soldiers:

14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?”

So he said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).

The word translated as “intimidate” is the Greek word diaseio which the KJV translates as violence. Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance translates it to shake thoroughly, to intimidate, to do violence to. It comes from two Greek words diagnosis and seio; diagnosis is translated as examination and seio as to rock, agitate, to throw in a tremor. There is no way a soldier cannot ‘agitate/intimidate’ if they are trying to kill someone.

Thus, John the Baptist’s statement here shows that military violence was not for the future followers of God. While early professors of Christ understood that, sadly, most groups who claim Christianity, including modern Baptists, have not understood that. This is one of many ways that modern Baptists do not follow the teachings or practices of John the Baptist.

Furthermore, some leaders that Baptist minister G.H. Orchard referred to in his book were certainly not real Christians. One, Justin Martyr, reported that he lived in no outward way different than the pagans (Dialogue with Trypho. Chapter 10), contrary to the Apostle Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 4:17. Two people that G.H. Orchard called “great men,” John Chrysostom and Augustine, not only were not real Christians, they both taught infant baptism!

There was no historical perpetuity for what are now the bulk of Baptists. Yet, it is still asserted at times.

Notice the following claims from a 20th century article by Baptist B.M. Cedarholm:

Historians testify that local churches; which hold the doctrines, beliefs, and practices of today’s Bible-believing, separatist Baptists; have had continuous existence since the days of Christ. This cannot be said of any other church, churches, or religious organization.  … “as far back as 100 A.D., although without doubt there were Baptist churches then, as all Christians were then Baptists.” (Cedarholm BM, editor. Historical Statements Concerning Baptists and their Origins.

While those are merely claims, we in the CCOG believe we can clearly demonstrate it was our doctrines and practices that the 100 A.D. church originally held (see, also, our free book, available online:Continuing History of the Church of God). They were NOT those of modern Baptists.

If you were to read that entire article edited by the Baptist B.M. Cedarholm, you would see that it mostly quotes Protestant theologians over the centuries of a Baptist persuasion who agree with part of the initial statement. But they offer no proof. Nor do they provide a real list of beliefs of early ‘Baptists’ held that current Baptists hold. While it is true that all early Christians endorsed baptism, early Christians simply held many doctrines that are in conflict with 21st century Baptists. Modern Baptists who learn of their teachings would not consider their churches the same as those in 100 A.D.

At least partially because King Henry VIII and early Lutherans condemned Anabaptists in the 16th century, Baptists have not always embraced the title Protestant. Yet, modern Baptists agree more with the Protestants than the Anabaptists of old on some the teachings and practices the Lutherans condemned the Anabaptists for (including the refusal of military service, not being involved in worldly politics, and teaching annihilation of the unrepentant).

It may because of their differences from the old Anabaptists that the Baptist perpetuity view of history is properly rejected by many modern Baptists.

However, on the internet in the 21st century, you can still find Baptist ministers who assert their modern religion has true perpetuity without real proof, such as the following (bolding in original):

Calvary Baptist Church believes that the Lord Jesus started the first church – during His earthly ministry. We do not believe that the church started on the Day of Pentecost, but at least three years earlier, and we further believe that Jesus promised His church a continued existence – ie. perpetuity. … Baptistic churches have existed from the time of Christ to the present day. Those churches have borne many different names in various places. One such name was “Anabaptist (Oldfield KD, pastor. Summary of our Doctrines. accessed 01/20/20)

Some of God’s People were known as Novatians … In about the year 250, … there was a man in Rome who was converted to Christ while on his death bed. Novatian had been a well-known and distinguished Pagan philosopher. … Novatian was one of several elders in the church at Rome before the formation of Roman Catholicism. (Oldfield KD, pastor. Some of God’s People were known as Novatians. Calvary Independent Baptists Church. Post Falls, Idaho. May 2, 2016.)

It should be pointed out that by 250 A.D., the Church of Rome had already changed on many doctrines and was aligned with regions dominated by apostates such as Alexandria, Jerusalem, and by that time, Antioch. 2nd century “oriental” Church of God leaders, such as Polycarp and Polycrates, had chastised Roman bishops for their inappropriate change of the date of Passover. Furthermore, by including the Roman Novatians, Baptists have proven, by their perpetuity declarations, that they do not have original perpetuity.

Now, instead of claiming doctrinal perpetuity from the original New Testament church, the late Baptist minister and civil rights activist, Martin Luther King, Jr. correctly concluded that his church (and other Greco-Roman-Protestant churches) adopted many traditions that they incorporated from Mithraism (King ML. The papers of Martin Luther King, Jr, Volume 4. Clayborne Carson, Ralph Luker, Penny A. Russell editors/compliers. University of California Press, 1992, pp. 222, 224, 307, 309).

Yes, it is a documented fact that modern Baptists adopted beliefs that the early oriental churches and their faithful successors did not hold.

Yet, what are some of the ramifications if the Baptists actually had doctrinal continuity with unknown groups (or portions of known groups) throughout history?

Well, that would be a total of much less than 1% of the world’s population during the church age (the time from Acts 2 to present). So since Baptists do not teach God will offer salvation to all either in this age or the age to come, either the Baptists are teaching that well over 99% of the population will be permanently lost—as they were not their type of Baptist—or if non-Baptists are also to be saved, that perpetuity teaching means it does not matter if one is a Baptist to be saved. It is most likely the latter position (based on various Baptist statements, including those from the late Billy Graham), which makes them like Evangelical Protestants (who also hold the position that most who ever lived unsaved).

Practically speaking, modern Baptists tend to hold essentially Protestant doctrinal views, generally in line with Evangelical Protestants. Because of that, they will tend to be grouped in with them in this book. They do NOT have the same hope of salvation that we in the CCOG hold to (for details, see the free online book:Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation).

Original Christian Beliefs

Before getting to specifics on the SDBs, consider that the following, which is from the Statement of Beliefs of the Continuing Church of God:

Notice the following teachings of early Christianity that historical documents shown were held during the times of the Ephesus and/or Smyrna eras–all of which are accepted by the Continuing Church of God and only a relatively few of which are practiced/taught/still accepted by Roman Catholics, Orthodox, or Protestants though early leaders considered as “saints” by the Catholics also held them):

Baptism of Christians was by immersion and did not include infants.

The complete Bible with the proper Old Testament and New Testament was relied on by the true Church in Asia Minor.

A Binitarian or Semi-Arian view, that acknowledged the Holy Spirit, was held by the apostolic and post-apostolic true Christian leaders.

Birthdays were not celebrated by early Christians.

Born-Again meant being born at the resurrection, not at the time of conversion, which is when a spiritual begettal occurs.

Celibacy for Bishops/Presbyters/Elders was not a requirement.

Christmas was not known to be observed by any professing Christ prior to the third century, or ever by those holding to early teachings; December 25th did not come from the Bible.

Church Governance was properly hierarchical.

Church services were scripturally, not ritualistically, focused, and did not resemble modern “mass” nor “church celebrations” that many attend.

Circumcision, though not required, was long practiced by original Nazarene Christians.

Confession of sins were not made to priests and did not require penance.

Deification of Christians (which begins at the first resurrection) was taught by the early leaders of the Church.

Duties of Elders/Pastors were pastoral and theological, not predominantly sacramental–nor did they dress as many Greco-Roman-Protestant clergy now do.

Easter per se was not observed by the apostolic church.

The Fall (and Spring) Holy Days were observed by true early Christians.

The Father was considered to be God by all early professing Christians.

The True Gospel included the Kingdom of God and obedience to the law of God and was so understood by the faithful.

Heaven was not taught to be the reward of Christians.

Holy Spirit was not referred to as God or as a person by any early true Christians.

Hymns were mainly psalms, not praises to Christ.

Idols were taught against and the cross was not adorned.

Immortality of the soul for normal human (not those once changed in the first resurrection) was not taught.

Jesus was considered to be God by the true Christians.

The Kingdom of God was preached.

Leavened Bread was removed from the homes of early Christians when the Jews did the same.

Lent was not observed by the primitive church.

Limbo was not taught by the original church.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, was blessed (Luke 1:28) and called blessed (Luke 1:48), but was not prayed to, etc. by true early Christians.

Military Service was not for true early Christians.

Millenarianism (a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth, often called the millennium) was taught by the early Christians.

Monasticism was unheard of in the early Christian church.

Passover was kept annually on the 14th of Nisan after sunset (so early during the night) by apostolic and second century Christians in Asia Minor.

Pentecost was kept on Sunday by certain Jews and was observed then by professing Christians.

Purgatory was not taught by the original apostolic church.

The Resurrection of the dead was taught by all early Christians

The Sabbath was observed on Saturday by the apostolic and post-apostolic Church.

Salvation was believed to be offered to the chosen now by the early Church, with others being called later, though not all that taught that (or other doctrines) practiced “the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).

God’s Six Thousand Year Plan for humankind to rule itself was believed by early professors of Christ.

Sunday was not observed by the apostolic and original post-apostolic Christians.

The Ten Commandments were observed by the apostolic and true post-apostolic Christians–and in the order that the Church of God claims they are in. Properly keeping the Ten Commandments helps build character so that Christians can better serve and make eternity better.

Tithes and Offerings were given to support the ministry, the churches, the needy, and evangelical travels and proclamation.

Tradition had some impact on the second century Christians, but was never supposed to supersede the Bible.

The Trinity was not a word used to describe the Godhead by the apostolic or second century Christians, though a certain threeness for the future was acknowledged.

Unclean Meats were eaten by the early allegorists, but not by true Christians.

The Virgin Birth was acknowledged by all true ante-Nicene Christians.

The Continuing Church of God continues to teach all the above as they were held by Jesus’ original apostles and their truly faithful early followers.

The Continuing Church of God also specifically traces its history from the original apostles like Peter, Paul, and John through through their faithful descendants like Polycarp, Polycrates, and certain other known early leaders/bishops in Asia Minor until the early-mid third century, certain known leaders/bishops until around 135 A.D. in Jerusalem, and until around 211 A.D. leaders/bishops in Antioch like Serapion.

SDBs hold to very few of the same beliefs and practices..

The Seventh Day Baptists

 The Seventh Day Baptists (SDBs) go to church on Saturday. But basically they hold Protestant doctrines, and primarily consider themselves as Baptists.

Although they claim a long history, in their claims they include early Sabbath keepers who do not hold their present doctrines like 4th century Semi-Arians in Armenia and 6th century Holy Day keepers in the British isles (Davis T. A General History of the Sabbatarian Churches. 1851; Reprinted 1995 by Commonwealth Publishing, Salt Lake City, pp. 20, 108). In this respect, they are like the Greco-Roman Catholics who claim as their own, their predecessors as well as COG leaders who opposed their beliefs.

The SDBs are actually trinitarian (Stillman W. Miscellaneous Compositions in Poetry and Prose. F.H. Bacon, New-London 1852; pp. 3-4) and do not keep the biblical holy days. They also include in their claimed history earlier groups who accepted “church eras” (Davis, p. 31), the Anabaptists who taught apocatastasis (Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907), kept Passover and the Days of Unleavened Bread (Falconer, pp. 57-58. As cited in Ball, B. Seventh Day Men: Sabbatarians and Sabbatarianism in England and Wales, 1600-1800, 2nd edition. James Clark & Co., 2009, pp. 49-51), did not eat pork (Ozell J. M. Mission Observations in His Travels over England. 1719. As cited in Ball, p. 9)—yet Seventh Day Baptists do eat pork, as well as many who called themselves “Church of God” and not Seventh Day Baptists (Duggar, pp. 275-277).

When we look into the 1700s and part of the 1800s, we see that those that tended to be "Seventh Day Baptists" complained about some of the differences among Sabbatarians:

That there were members of the Church of God among the Sabbatarians which organized as the Seventh Day Baptist Churches in America, we know, and from the records of the Baptist people themselves, which are very accurate, we learn the truth of this fact. A recorded letter of one William Davis, a Sabbatarian Baptist, states the following:

"Now all this enmity among seventh-day men arose against me originally from a noted seventh-day man and soul sleeper in this country, who above twenty years ago opposed me about my principles of immortality of human souls, and afterward proceeded to differ with me about my faith in Christ and the Trinity, who, having poisoned several other seventh-day men with the mortal and atheistical notion, and set them against me, he secretly conveyed this drench over to Westerly to the persons beforenamed, who, complying with him in their judgments in the Socinian and Anti-Trinitarian error, drank it greedily down before I came among them . . . ." -- Idem, p. 108, Vol. 2, No. 3. (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 277).

My great-grandfather, William Davis, came from England about 1685, and preached to the Seventh Day Baptist Church in Westerly, now Hopkinton—the first Seventh Day Baptist Church in America, except the one at Newport, R. I., which was constituted some time previous. The Church in Hopkinton was constituted in 1061. He preached for this Church a year or two, then made arrangements to go back to England, and went to Newport and engaged a passage; but before the ship sailed, the Church sent a Committee and persuaded him not to go; so he returned to Hopkinton and preached for them until some of the Church fell out with him, because he preached the doctrine of the Trinity. Whereupon he left them and went to Pennsylvania, and some of the time in New Jersey, and died somewhere out in that country. (Stillman W. Miscellaneous Compositions in Poetry and Prose. F.H.Bacon, New-London 1852; pp. 3-4. Original from the New York Public Library Digitized Nov 15, 2006).

Thus, there were Sabbatarians who held to COG doctrines such as that the soul is not immortal and that God is not a trinity. It appears that those in the USA who kept COG doctrines in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries were those whose descendants became part of the organized Church of God movement later.

Another difference between those Sabbatarians who remained in the COG and those who were SDBs was the use of titles, both of the church and its leadership.

The COGs always tended to call themselves part of the "Church of God" or "Church of Christ." Those who became the SDBs also seem to have used those same terms until towards the end of the 1700s, when they began to refer to themselves officially as "Seventh Day Baptists."

Notice the following:

The Church of God keeping the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus Christ, living in Piscataway and Hopewell, in the province of New Jersey, being assembled with one accord, at the house of Benjamin Martin, in Piscataway, the 19th day of August, 1705 (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972 (Church of God, 7th Day). 1990 reprint, p. 275).

This is the book of records of the settlement and proceedings of the Church of Christ...In October...1745 (Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 11-12).

It is important to note that even though the author of the reference referred to the above church as SDB, they did not use that term in 1745. In 1774, the Sabbatarian Shrewsbury church called itself "church of God." (White C. HISTORIC SABBATARIAN & CHURCH OF GOD FUNDAMENTALS OF BELIEF, Version 1.18, p. 9).

But that changed. By 1775, that church called itself "the Seventh Day Baptist Church inhabiting in Shrewsbury Township" (Randolf, p. 28), but the 'denomination' did not adopt it until several decades later (1818).

It should be added here that the 1745 writings refer to church leaders with titles such as "Elder" and "ministering brother," and never "Reverend."

While the COGs still use the term "elder" and those that became the SDBs originally used the term "elder," this appeared to change with the SDBs in the latter half of the 1700s.

For example, look at this quote from the official records of the Shrewsbury church:

John Davis, chosen elder, July 19, 1746 ... Rebecca Brand was the first baptized after brother John Davis' decease, and was received as a member of the church, November 11, about the year 1758, Rev. Jonathan Dunham being the administrator (Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 31-32).

It seems then, from the latter portion of the 1700s and beyond, those that were SDBs called their leaders "Reverend." Also, even though the original records refer to John Davis as an elder, the SDBs now refer to him as "Rev. John Davis" (ibid, p. 398).

Yet, the Bible teaches:

He sent redemption unto his people: he hath commanded his covenant for ever: holy and reverend is his name (Psalm 111:9. KJV).

Since it is God's name that is to be revered, it is not proper to say a human's name is reverend.

As mentioned previously, the records of the Piscataway church shows that, in 1750 it did not call itself Seventh Day Baptist, it referred to itself as "The Church of God", and it called its top leaders by the term "elders."

Another changes that occurred within the SBD movement was that although their original church buildings looked like houses, eventually, most of them had steeples (no COG I am aware of has ever built a church with a steeple as we tend to consider this a hold-over from sun-god worship). The book A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia has church sketches and/or photos on pages 74a, 100a, 160a, 208a, 214a, 238a, and 242a without steeples, but shows steeples on pages 104a, 106a, 246a, and 344a. This suggests that some of the SDBs wanted to appear more like Protestants.

I should also add that I do not know what the interiors of SBD churches now look like (the two I tried to visit ended up being rented halls), but in the early times, they contained no crosses or other images (ibid, pages 38a and 102a). The COGs do not have crosses or other images involved in their worship services.

Now, as of 1811, the bulk of those called Seventh Day Baptists were NOT trinitarian. Notice a statement from their historian Henry Clarke:

As this denomination universally hold the Bible contains God's holy word ... I conclude they are believe in one God, the Father and maker of all things, sin excepted, and in one Lod Jesus Christ, or that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, also in the Holy Ghost as the operative power or spirit of God. But, there are few if any, of this denomination who believe that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are three absolute distinct persons, coequal, coessential, and coeternal Gods, and yet but one God: as such an idea would be in the face of scripture, and repugnant to right reason. (Clarke, pp. 61-62).

But the SDBs changed are were fully trinitarian shortly thereafter as they made a trinitarian declaration in 1833 in a document titled Expose of Sentiments.

The SBDs were not an especially large church:

The S.B. Baptist General Conference was organized in 1802 ..., it included ...1130 members ... The Conference now embraces some eighty churches and about eight thousand members (Andrews p. 502).

The "now" would have been 1873. As it became more Protestant, the SDBs grew some.

It appears that by 1808, many SDBs considered Protestants to be true Christian brothers (Randolph C.F. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), pp. 138-140). This differs from the COGs as we do not see it that way--we tend to consider most Protestants to be sincere people who do not fully understand the truth of God or the plan of God (an article of related interest might be Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differ from most Protestants).

In 1825, the SDB church also temporarily put out of the ministry, one who taught against the immortality of the soul (ibid, p. 87). The COGs have always taught against the pagan doctrine of the immortality of the soul (An article of related interest may be Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?).

Another aspect of the SDB movement was military service. By the time of the revolutionary war, even some of its ministry decided to become part of the military (ibid, p. 45). This was not the practice of those in the COG (a related article of interest may be Military Service and the COGs).

Hence by the 1800s, major non-biblical changes had taken place within the Sabbatarian churches. But not all in Sardis were taken in by it.

The late COG historian Richard Nickels made several points about the SDBs and history:

Seventh Day Baptists cannot validly claim exclusive “ownership” of the history of Sabbatarians. SDB’s today do not agree doctrinally with their Sabbatarian ancestors! Actually, today’s faithful Church of God brethren are doctrinally closer to early English and American Sabbath-keepers than are today’s liberal SDB’s. Early American Sabbatarians rejected Trinity and immortal soul teaching, eschewed Christmas and Easter, promoted their faith much more than SDB’s do today, and traced their spiritual ancestry directly to English Lollards, Waldensians, and the first century Church ... The oldest existing Seventh Day Baptist Church, the Mill Yard Church in London, England, began during the mid 1600’s. The Mill Yard Church has apparently always kept the “Lord’s Supper” on the fourteenth day of the first Hebrew month, but almost no American SDB churches have followed this practice. Today, SDB’s accept Christmas, the Trinity, and immortal soul teaching. (Nickels R. Six Papers on the History of the Church of God. Sharing & Giving, Neck City (MO), 1993, p. 83).

In the area of England in the 1600s, there were two basic groups of baptism by immersion Sabbath keepers, which some have identified as General and Particular (Ball, pp. 102-103; Brackney WH. The Baptists. ABC-CLIO, 1994, pp. 6-7). Those called General believed Jesus died for all, the doctrine of the laying on hands, avoiding pork, keeping Passover on the 14th, footwashing, millenarianism, anointing the sick, “Jewish ceremonies” (possibly a reference to biblical holy days or Passover), and a soon coming kingdom of God (Ball, p. 9-10,15,49,59,102; see also Brackney, p. 7). The group called Particular Baptists were Calvinists (Brackney, p. 6) who believed Jesus only died for the elect (Ball, p. 102)—this group, in time, became more ecumenically Protestant and more like first day Baptists. Note the faithful used the term “Church of God” then (Philotheos, pp. 26-27), not “Baptist.”

By the late 1700s, those now called Seventh Day Baptists adopted even more Protestant positions and also started calling themselves Sabbatarian Baptists. They began to use the title Reverend for their ministers (Randolph CF. A History of the Seventh Day Baptists in West Virginia, 1905. Reprint 2005. Heritage Books, Westminster (MD), p. 28), insist on the immortality of the soul (Dugger AN, Dodd CO. A History of True Religion, 3rd ed. Jerusalem, 1972. Church of God, 7th Day. 1990 reprint, p. 277; Randolf, p. 87), put steeples on their church buildings (Randolf pages 74a, 100a, 160a, 208a, 214a, 238a, and 242a of church buildings without steeples, but shows steeples on pages 104a, 106a, 246a, and 344a), and became separate from Church of God brethren that they claim to have been their ancestors (Stillman, pp. 3-4; Randolf, p. 87).

For more on Protestants compared to original Christian beliefs, check out the free online book: Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from Protestantism.

In 1811, a SDB writer declared that the idea “that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are three absolute distinct persons, coequal, coessential, and coeternal Gods” … flew “in the face of scripture” and was “repugnant to right reason.” (Clarke H. A History of the Sabbatarians Or Seventh Day Baptists, in America; Containing Their Rise and Progress to the Year 1811, with Their Leaders' Names, and Their Distinguishing Tenets, etc. Utica, 181, pp. 61-62). But in 1833, the SDBs made a trinitarian declaration in a document titled Expose of Sentiments. By the early 1800s, many SDBs considered Protestants to be true Christian brothers (Randolph, pp. 138-140).

Though the SDBs and Seventh-day Adventists claimed to represent nearly of the Sabbath-keepers in the U.S.A. in the 19th century, that was not the case. Notice something written by H.E. Carver (who was then a leader in Church of God, Adventist) to the SDBs that was published in the February 8, 1872, Seventh Day Baptist Sabbath Recorder:

There are hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Sabbath-keepers scattered over the land, from the Atlantic coast to the shores of the Pacific, who do not belong either to your church organization, or that of the Seventh-day Adventists. (As cited in Briggs, Lawson. What Became of the Church Jesus Built? Thesis for Ambassador College, April 1972, pp. 265,267)

Although some leaders had some contact with the groups called the Seventh Day Baptists and the Seventh-day Adventists (SDAs), those organizations were never COG.

On June 12, 1922, the prince of Ethiopia, Wixzezyxzrd Challoughezilzise, accompanied by his secretary, Elder Robert B. St. Clair (an Adventist turned Seventh Day Baptist), arrived at Stanberry, Missouri, where he spoke to audiences for several nights. How he came to visit Stanberry is unknown. The prince was well-educated, and quite a musician. In 1922 it was said that Ethiopia kept the Sabbath as a nation, and held many tenets of faith similar to the Church of God. While in Stanberry, the Prince was presented with two Bible Home Instructors (which have Church of God doctrine arranged according to subject in a question and answer form), which he apparently prized highly. From Stanberry he went to Marion, Iowa (previous headquarters of the Church of God), on his way to Chicago, from where he expected to return to Ethiopia. From St. Clair, Dugger was given "first insight" into the true facts of church history. Dugger learned that the Ethiopian church were Sabbath-keepers and dated their origin from seven hundred years before Moses, "and also that they called themselves the Church of Christ and Church of God." His curiosity piqued, Dugger learned from St. Clair that the Seventh Day Baptist church also called themselves "Church of God" during their early history in America, and showed Dugger certain books where this could be verified. Dugger learned that even as late as 1926, the name Church of God was on some old "Seventh Day Baptist" church houses in the East. Dugger came to conclude "that the Church of God does not date its history back to 1861 and then follow through the Seventh Day Baptist channels, but rather through that company of people who held to the same name we hold today and consequently our history is perpetuated without a break." (Nickels R. History of the Seventh Day Church of God. Sharing & Giving, Neck City (MO), 1988, p. 120).

The above partially explains why A.N. Dugger and others have realized that the SDBs claims certain ancestor groups that held closer to COG doctrines than current SBD ones.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that in at least one group (called the Pine Grove or South Fork Church) that became an SDB congregation in 1839-1842. Later, a new leader came and taught adopted practices more like the COGs in the later 1800s, such as Passover on the 14th day of Nisan (Randolph, p. 202), footwashing (ibid, p. 15), the avoidance of swine as food (ibid, p. 203), etc. and it split in 1871 (ibid, p. 202) and the SDB portion became known as the Ritchie Church. The "mother group" (still known as South Fork, Church of Christ) did not apply to be part of the SDB South-Eastern Association when it formed in 1872 (ibid, p. 204), however eventually its more prominent members left and it became part of the SDBs in 1897 (ibid, p. 228).

Here is a 20th century report related to the true COG and the SDBs and SDAs:

True Church Versus Seventh Day Baptists

Another congregation of early Sabbatarians settled on the South fork of Hughes River in West Virginia in Ridgie County and among them were leaders who lead contrary to the Sabbatarians then known as the Seventh Day Baptists. Of these Christians it is recorded that they “taught obedience to the ceremonial law and enforced on the church contrary to the faith of the Seventh Day Baptists denomination, abstainance from certain meats, peculiarities of dress and urged that the church should be governed by elders exclusively.”

That makes it very blunt that they certainly weren't the Seventh Day Baptists Church at all. And now he goes off on what we used to think. We used to think Adventists had originally been a branch of the true church, but they never were as we found from their own writings now in searching. They never were. Just like the Seventh Day Baptists never were the true church. ...

Adventist Movement

William Miller, an earnest prophetical student and minister was the main leader in the movement of 1835, in which the time of the second coming of the Lord was set. His great enthusiasm for Christ's return and a partial knowledge of prophecy led him to believe that the Lord would come back in 1844. ... The year 1844, year of the disappointment, James White began publishing "The Messenger" at Rochester, New York. The name of the paper was later changed to "The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald." ... But that wasn't the location of the true church at all.

(Blackwell D. A HANDBOOK OF CHURCH HISTORY. A Thesis Presented to the Faculty of the Ambassador College Graduate School of Theology, April 1973, p. 210)

What about the modern SDBs?

Currently, SDBs are clearly Protestants, with their main difference that they normally go to church on Saturday.

Unlike early Christians the SDBs use crosses. Notice what their current logo below shows:

Here is a 21st century report about the SDBs:

Are Christians wrong to worship on Sunday when the biblical Sabbath is Saturday? Rob Appel, executive director of the Seventh Day Baptist General Conference answers with a question of his own: “What day did Christ go to church? Saturday. OK, let’s be Christ like.”

... Saturday worship is not a definitive marker over which the church is willing to fight.

“It’s not a big thing,” said Appel ... “We are Baptist,” Appel said. “We just have a different day of worship” ...

Early members were persecuted because of their Sabbath worship, which prompted “a tendency to keep to ourselves.”

“That mentality permeated from generation to generation,” he said. “We don’t feel that anymore ...”...
Seventh Day Baptists leave women’s ordination up to the local church. The Conference has issued no statement on ordination, although it has accredited some female pastors ...

The Sabbath theology takes second place, or third ...

“We’re Baptists first,” Kersten said. “When I send kids off to college, I encourage them to keep the Sabbath and find a good Sunday Baptist Church.” He said there are “so many theological problems” in other Sabbatarian groups that “Baptist” is more important than Saturday worship. (Jameson N. ‘Baptist’ comes first for Seventh Day Baptists. Associated Baptist Press, June 29, 2011. This article was commissioned by the North American Baptist Fellowship)

There is no historical evidence that early SDBs ordained any women, and there is evidence that they would take stronger stands on the Sabbath than they now do. 

The “theological problems” that the SDBs have with groups like the Continuing Church of God seem to include the fact that we have retained historical Christian beliefs on matters such as the Godhead as well as other doctrines they do not hold.

Baptists, Seventh Day or otherwise, do not have continuity from the apostles nor do they contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints as the Continuing Church of God does.

Here are two related sermons in the English language: Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG? and Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History.

For more information on Protestant and CCOG differences, check out the following:

Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God differs from Protestantism The CCOG is NOT Protestant. This free online book explains how the real Church of God differs from mainstream/traditional Protestants. Several sermons related to the free book are also available: Protestant, Baptist, and CCOG History; The First Protestant, God’s Command, Grace, & Character; The New Testament, Martin Luther, and the Canon; Eucharist, Passover, and Easter; Views of Jews, Lost Tribes, Warfare, & Baptism; Scripture vs. Tradition, Sabbath vs. Sunday; Church Services, Sunday, Heaven, and God’s Plan; Seventh Day Baptists/Adventists/Messianics: Protestant or COG?; Millennial Kingdom of God and God’s Plan of Salvation; Crosses, Trees, Tithes, and Unclean Meats; The Godhead and the Trinity; Fleeing or Rapture?; and Ecumenism, Rome, and CCOG Differences.

Thiel B. Seventh Day Baptists are Protestant, not Church of God. COGwriter (c) 2020

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